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Chicken Drumstick

Suzuki Jimny (JB74) Roadtest Review

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Now, I know this is a Land Rover forum, however I'd assume (or at least hope), that most Land Rover owners are also avid 4x4 and off road enthusiasts also. Therefore being interested in all things 4wd.

Using this rational and the fact Land Rover seems completely reluctant to offer a rugged 4x4 these days, forcing potential buyers to shop elsewhere. I thought some of you might find this of interest. If not, you can always skip to the next thread..... :)

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Living with a Jimny – The 2 week Road-test Review

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I have had my Jimny for two weeks now. Yes, that’s right, it is mine. Undoubtedly this review will be slightly biased. However, having now spent 25 hours or more seat time and over 650 miles covered. I suspect I’m well placed to offer an initial opinion. Remember many motoring journalists may only get a few hours or a day with a vehicle to review it.

I’ll dive straight in and say it is an extremely pleasing and satisfying vehicle to pilot. It isn’t 100% perfect, but no car is. However, it is getting rather close for me, with only a few minor niggles or complaints.


This is purely an ‘on-road’ review at this stage. The vehicle will be going off road, but it has been far to wet and muddy to get something I own completely filthy off road. Therefore, an ‘off-road’ review will be following this article in due course.

The Jimny is an Ivory Chiffon SZ5 5-speed manual. Therefore, comes with all the toys offered in the UK for the Jimny. The interior is a very pleasant place to be, the seats are squishy, but very comfortable. They are also heated and will cook your behind, they really do get rather toasty. My previous daily driver, a Smart ForTwo Prime Sport of 2017 vintage also had superb heated seats, that also heated the lower portion of the seat back. Unfortunately, the Jimny seems confined to only heating the seat base. A shame for certain, but certainly not a deal breaker.

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There is ample headroom in the Jimny, not that I worry about such things, being more akin to Richard Hammond in height than that of most average Britons. And there is also ample elbow room, provided you are of a regular girth. The Jimny’s external width is quite narrow, and therefore so is its interior. Large people may end up at rather close quarters to each other.

The rest of the cabin is airy and generally a pleasant place to be. The door trims are simple plastic but fit the character of the car. The dash top is of a very nice stippled material. Which would have gone well in other places in the interior. However, the interior is my only real complaint. Not in its materials though. Just a general lack of cubby storage. For instance, there is small tray below the dash in front of the gearstick. Conveniently placed near the only USB port. Hooray, somewhere to place your smartphone. Yet, alas no. The tray is fine for a decade old iPhone 5, but a modern larger phone does not fit. Come on Suzuki, how can you make such a basic error! It is unforgivable, well almost.

While on this subject, the lack of USB ports is also somewhat of a shame. There is a 12v power outlet next to the USB port and a second 12v socket in the boot, which will be handy for a cooler/fridge when out laning or similar. But in a modern car, you are likely to want maybe four or five USB ports; smartphone, passengers smartphone, iPad (for mapping duties when overlanding/laning), dashcam and so on. My only other niggle with the interior, which some might sight is petty are the sun visors. They leave a large gap between the left edge (right hand drive car) and the interior mirror. Allowing that pesky low sun at this time of year to easily shine right past.

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The rest of the interior carries no complaints, the Jimny comes reasonably well specced with Cruise Control/Speed Limiter, Climate Control, leccy windows, heated mirrors and central dashboard touchscreen with in-built Navigation, DAB radio and Apple CarPlay support.

In terms of driver focused interior components. The steering wheel is a work of art. Thin rimmed, nice grippy material and very comfortable to hold and rotate. Lots of room for your fingers and easy to reach controls. It must be one of the nicest modern steering wheels I’ve had my hands on. Mercedes-Benz, please take note. I recently drove a brand new GLA and my lasting impression is what a ghastly, uncomfortable, horrid steering wheel it had, with absolutely nowhere to put your fingers!

The gearbox in the Jimny is a joy to behold too. The standard gearknob may not look all that pretty, but in the hand, it is comfortable to use. The gearbox itself is also one of the sweetest I have stirred. It makes you want to shift cogs, even if you don’t need too. The pedals are also well placed with sensible grippy pads, something I’m sure I will appreciate even more when off road and driving with muddy boots. The handbrake is also placed exactly where you hand lands, allowing you to easily use it without the need to look down to find it.

The boot is laughably small on these. But this should come as no surprise to anyone. The Jimny has two rows of seats and a longitudinal mounted engine. All packaged into a vehicle that is only 140” in long. Fortunately the rear seats fold down quickly and easily. Offering up a fairly large load area for such a small vehicle.

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Enough of the interior, what is it like on the open road? Well, I have read many a review and comment posted across the inter-web. And I often see people saying things like skittering over bumps, rolling in corners, uncomfortable, crashy suspension and other such stereotypical nonsense many 4x4’s get associated with. However, I must wonder if some of these people have actually been in the vehicle they are claiming to be reviewing? As my personal experience couldn’t be further from this.

To give a little parody to this, on the day I collected my Jimny I also drove my then 2017 Smart ForTwo as well as a brand new Mercedes GLA200 (had 26 miles on the clock). Out of the three vehicles, the Jimny is easily the most comfortable and I’d argue rode nicer than the GLA did. The Mercedes was shod with massive alloys and low-profile tyres and every imperfection in the road, and I do mean every. Was transmitted into the cabin with a very audible “thump”. Which was felt throughout the entire car. The Jimny positively glides over the same roads. Yes, some may accuse me of being biased and having a personal stake in the Jimny. But at the end of the day, all I can do is report my findings and offer my opinion. And based on this, I’d rather ride in the archaic live axle vehicle, if comfort was a concern, despite popular opinion found across the internet.

I admit there are some rare occasions where a particular road surface does give a particular sensation, most likely due to the short wheelbase combined with live axles. However, I would still say the ride comfort is still very, very good. And if you are complaining about it, then you’d not like over 90% of the cars on the roads either. There really is nothing wrong at all with how they ride.

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So, what about the handling I hear you ask? Well, here again I may be labelled as biased. Although, I’d much prefer to use the term experienced. I have grown up with 4x4’s. My first “car” was a Defender 90 way back in 1997. And since then I have owned a good number of 4-wheel drives from Land Rover and Jeep and driven many more besides. While not wanting to sound big headed, I suspect many people less familiar with off road vehicles simply don’t grasp that a live axle vehicle will feel somewhat different in the corners compared to a vehicle running independent suspension at each corner.

In direct regard to the Jimny, I have found it to be most pleasing and exciting out on the country roads. It handles really well and is a huge amount of fun. From the inside it certainly doesn’t feel like it is leaning and rolling excessively or uncontrollably. Which completely baffles me when people claim that it does. I’ll go as far to say, that I have enjoyed driving it as much as any sports car I’ve been in. In reality you won’t be making the same kind of progress or speed. But you’d never know you this from the driver’s seat unless looking at the speedo. You truly feel like you are flying along. For anyone experienced with how well a Defender 90 can tackle British B-roads, the Jimny drives in much the same way, but feels lighter and more nimble.

The steering may lack feedback for some, but the rest of the chassis communicates well and will reward a smooth driving style. To which the wonderful gearbox compliments this experience tenfold.

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The engine is rather a peach too, on paper a 1.5 litre naturally aspirated inline 4 with only 100hp or so, doesn’t sound all that much. But it is super smooth, very characterful and will pull from nothing. Sub 1500rpm kind of nothing in any of the 5 forward gears.

With plenty of mid-range punch and will, unlike many modern turbo units happily, rev out to the red line. Obviously with only 100’ish bhp on tap, even for a vehicle weighing just over a tonne, the Jimny is never going to be a rocketship. That said, it actually has a respectable power to weight ratio when you look at certain sporty hatchbacks and sports cars from yesteryear. But here the Jimny has another party trick, the engine makes a surprisingly nice rumble above 3500rpm, one of the nicer sounding inline 4’s I’ve encountered. The engine has wonderful character and eagerness. This eagerness makes you believe and feel that it is accelerating far quicker than you actually are. Which is rather ideal out on the public roads and simply adds to the already high levels of fun. This is truly a vehicle to make you smile, while remaining at fairly sane and legal speeds.

On the subject of speed, the Jimny is no motorway cruiser. While it will happily sit at motorway speed; 70mph is nearing 3500rpm on the tacho and wind noise picks up too. However, sit at 60-65mph and it is very comfortable. But you need to change your mindset to simply not care about other cars buzzing past you. In reality you’ll probably get where you are going in almost the same time anyhow. And more than likely you’ll be doing it with a bigger smile on your face than most.

Do I recommend the 4th Generation Jimny? Absolutely!

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SWMBO has a 65 plate Jimny (previous model) and she loves it, as do I. It feels solid and is good to drive, and I would recommend them to anyone. I'm sure the new one will be better, and if I had the money, I would buy one in a heartbeat.

Its not a Grand Tourer,  a luxury saloon, or a sports car, and it irks me that some commentators seem to be comparing them as such. 

 

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Good write up CD , did you ever drive a previous generation Jimny ? Just wondered how they compared 

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26 minutes ago, Ozzy50 said:

Good write up CD , did you ever drive a previous generation Jimny ? Just wondered how they compared 

I have been in two 3rd Gens. But not for a long time or for any distance. Also on road only. 
 

I would say they are similar but the new one is better in every single way. No bigger or heavier, more power, faster. Better traction control and a nicer interior. I believe the chassis, axles and suspension are quite similar on both. 

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Well I guess it would be a shock if the new model didn’t improve on the old I guess ! My mum had one for several years and she loved it , fine around town and the village but motorways were a no no , too slow and felt very vulnerable! I think the new models look great . 

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The new one is capable of high speed cruising just fine. Although I’d say it is better at 60-65mph than 70. The latter is higher in the revs and more wind noise. On a private section of road I’ve seen 90mph on the speedo however and it was still accelerating, albeit slowly by that point. It’s quite rapid up to around 75/80mph though. 
 

I also wouldn’t say it feels any more vulnerable than any other small car, eg Pug 106/MGF/MX-5/Smart Fortwo. 

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We've got a couple in the club that take theirs greenlaning and to our site days. I know it's had some mods, I think lift, tyres etc. It's incredibly capable and certainly keeps up with all the lr products. It has been known to recover one or two to.

Mike

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They're good.

Simple

The Mrs. would love to get one but they're difficult (= expensive) to get hold of...

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2 hours ago, Arjan said:

They're good.

Simple

The Mrs. would love to get one but they're difficult (= expensive) to get hold of...

You could live here where they are impossible..  :(

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wait another 15 years......

I know I will have to wait a few years to buy the next 4x4...

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18 minutes ago, Arjan said:

wait another 15 years......

I know I will have to wait a few years to buy the next 4x4...

I don't think Suzukis last 15 years.

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10 hours ago, Red90 said:

I don't think Suzukis last 15 years.

Mine was still going at 20 years when it was stolen. Who would've thought someone else would want it! :blink:

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My mum’s was an 03 and is still in daily use by the new owner , the last as long as any LR product if not longer 

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I had one for 3 years, and sold it only to family requirements for more than I paid for it.

Utterly reliable and did 30mpg even with only short runs.

And that was an early 2000 plate one.

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On 3/3/2020 at 10:28 PM, Chicken Drumstick said:

In direct regard to the Jimny, I have found it to be most pleasing and exciting out on the country roads. It handles really well and is a huge amount of fun. From the inside it certainly doesn’t feel like it is leaning and rolling excessively or uncontrollably. Which completely baffles me when people claim that it does. I’ll go as far to say, that I have enjoyed driving it as much as any sports car I’ve been in. In reality you won’t be making the same kind of progress or speed. But you’d never know you this from the driver’s seat unless looking at the speedo. You truly feel like you are flying along. For anyone experienced with how well a Defender 90 can tackle British B-roads, the Jimny drives in much the same way, but feels lighter and more nimble.

Maybe people try to drive it like an ordinary road car and arrive at bends inadvisably fast? Remember the number of Discoveries that were crashed that way when they first came out.

 

On 3/3/2020 at 10:28 PM, Chicken Drumstick said:

On the subject of speed, the Jimny is no motorway cruiser. While it will happily sit at motorway speed; 70mph is nearing 3500rpm on the tacho and wind noise picks up too. However, sit at 60-65mph and it is very comfortable. But you need to change your mindset to simply not care about other cars buzzing past you. In reality you’ll probably get where you are going in almost the same time anyhow. And more than likely you’ll be doing it with a bigger smile on your face than most.

Funnily enough some cars that get a great press have the same problem. I hired a Fiesta recently. Nice enough little car - comfortable, well specced, big car ride. Handling comfortable, could have been entertaining with a bigger engine. But this one had a small normally aspirated engine and a five speed gearbox that wanted fifth at 40mph. On the motorway you were thrashing it and it drank like a fish (it wasn't exactly economical even at low speeds - trying hard I managed to squeeze 40mpg average from it on local rural driving, 35mpg was more realistic).

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2 hours ago, geoffbeaumont said:

Maybe people try to drive it like an ordinary road car and arrive at bends inadvisably fast? Remember the number of Discoveries that were crashed that way when they first came out.

When I was a kid my friends dad got a brand new J-reg discovery, i used to love it with the side steps, 7 seats, two sunroofs with high head height and storage pockets, bull bars and huge amounts of body roll when you cornered. They were towing the family caravan once, just a little 2 berth thing, a lorry overtook them a bit too close, the draft pulled the caravan and the discovery ended up going down the motorway on its roof. Ironically the caravan remained the right way up. As much as I don't like the D5 I can't imagine it would go over as easily as that so it all comes down to what you want from the thing I guess. The insurance put the discovery back on the road though 🙋‍♂️

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My parents had a somewhat similar experience with their M reg Discovery - travelling with a friend, who took the wheel for a stint on the motorway. Came out from a cutting, caught a sudden cross wind and she over corrected and started the vehicle weaving. Bounced off a lorry and spun into the central reservation, though somehow stayed shiny side up. Turned out her assurances that she was used to driving 4x4s meant she used to have a Niva - a rather different beast to drive. It was also repaired, but was never quite the same again - it always had a high speed vibration.

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6 hours ago, Cynic-al said:

Mine was still going at 20 years when it was stolen. Who would've thought someone else would want it! :blink:

They disappear from rust here. I have not seen one on the road for years.

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Personally, and this is not an attack, but maybe it’s you that has the minority view and not the journalists. Mordern cars, for the most part, are more comfortable, steer better, handle better, brake better than a Defender or the new Jimmy. This is especially so on a long journeys and at higher speeds that journalists will normally use for their tests. High speed A/B roads with compressions etc. will show up a live axle easily. Add in the cheap plastics, small space etc. and it’s no wonder most don’t like the Jimny  and  previously the Defender.

Now, you see past all the downsides and like the Jimny for what it is, most journalists naturally won’t, so is it any wonder that you see the negative reports?

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